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Monday, December 5, 2016

Kern County and Bakersfield, California - April 2010, Part 2

UpTake Travel Gem

JULY 2,2010 - UPDATED CONTENT BELOW (Scroll down)

Previously on The World on Wheels: Bakersfield, we ate some great tacos, drank an awesome margarita, listened to some country music, and took in some stock car racing.

Watch the Video!

The next day, we get ready for some baseball. Today, we’re taking in a game of the Bakersfield Blaze who are hosting the Lancaster Jethawks. The Blaze are the single A minor league affiliate of the Texas Rangers, while the Jethawks are with the Houston Astros.

It’s a Sunday, so that means a day game. A stiff breeze greets us as we get to the parking lot of Sam Lynn Stadium in Bakersfield. I like the wheelchair seats here because they are elevated platforms in the first row of this small stadium. It’s rare that wheelchairs get to sit in the front row anywhere.

We set up on the platform, buy some hot dogs and beer and wait for the game to begin. The wind is blowing stronger, so Letty has us move back a few feet where we can use a stairwell as a wind-break.

The game begins, and the wind gets worse; kicking up clouds of dust. Soon, our hair is dusty and there is grit in our teeth. Our beers are polluted with that Bakersfield dirt.

The Blaze get out to a quick lead. The announcer asks people to avoid a tented pavilion down the right-field foul line for safety reasons. Advertising banners are being blown off of the outfield wall.

In the second inning, the Jethawks pitcher steps off of the mound and starts rubbing his eyes. The two team managers come out and ask the umpires to delay the game. They do and now we’re in a wind delay. Since it’s only a delay, we have no recourse…your tickets are still good for today only. We wait and luckily one of the team execs comes by and says they’ll wait a half hour and make a final decision. We can live with that.

Howling winds buffet the stadium and the fans. Finally, the umpires relent and suspend the game. In baseball, there are no refunds…your tickets for a cancelled game can be used for another game later in the season. We will hope for better weather tomorrow but it’s too windy to put the tarps on the field and a short but heavy rainstorm hits that night, drenching the field. Tomorrow’s game will be cancelled too. Oh well, we’ll hold on to our stubs and come back in a couple of months.

UPDATE: June 2010

Since we still had tickets to a Blaze game, we went back up to Bakersfield last weekend to catch the game. It would have been cheaper just to eat the tickets but anything for an excuse to go to Bakersfield… yes, we are nerdy like that and, yes, we do like Bakersfield but this weekend would probably be the last weekend we could go before it got unbearably hot.

It was a pretty uneventful drive over the Grapevine and we pulled into Huichos for lunch and then headed to Dewar’s for dessert at the newer location on Hageman Road. The server was a delight but the lady that rang up our bill seemed to want to get into an argument for some reason. Sensing a little hostility there, I just kept my mouth shut and paid the bill. Great ice cream, though.

Again, we stayed at our home-away-from home, the Springhill Suites by Marriott just off Rosedale Highway. I was on the verge of being sick so I took a nap while Letty went out to the pool. Dinner was at Benji’s, a Basque restaurant near the hotel. We love Basque restaurants and Benji’s gets my vote for the best salad I’ve ever had. Their pickled tongue is also good, second only to Centro Basco in Chino. Overall, it gets my vote over Woolgrower’s as the better of the Basque restaurants we’ve ate at in Bakersfield. The only other one we’ve been to is the Basque Café which is no longer in business.

On to the game. We got blown out by a dust storm in April but today the weather is fantastic. Due to the batters facing directly into the sunset because of the field alignment, night games start at 7:45pm this time of the year. We get great seats right behind home plate in the first row.

Sam Lynn Stadium…home of the Blaze…is old and in dire need of a rehabilitation but it is also so down-home friendly and comfortable that I can overlook that. We sit in the middle of a small group of friendly season ticket holders who are more than happy to chat about all things baseball and Bakersfield. Like the usual Bakersfield residents, they are kind of amazed that someone would actually visit their city for a getaway but most acknowledge that they live in a hidden gem of a town.

The Blaze give the lead away early to Visalia via a solo home run.

After the first inning, just like in April, Letty is chosen to be the sweetheart of the game and is given flowers by the mascot, Heater, and is announced over the PA system. No, I didn’t pay anyone off…just a happy coincidence.

The Blaze tie the game and take the lead. After nine good innings, they take the game with a score of 5-4.

Breakfast the next morning was at the 24th Street Café in downtown. It has a good reputation for a breakfast place and the food is very good, but the service was slow and they really try to shoehorn people into the smallest tables that they can. Later, I would get sick on something…I think the chorizo I had for breakfast here…and would spend the rest of the day in bed when we got home.

Overall, a fun and very quick getaway to one of our favorite places. Bye Bakersfield…you are far too hot for me now, we’ll meet again in the fall.

We go back to the hotel where we take a swim and then a shower to get all the dirt off of us. Luckily, our hotel has an indoor pool so we don’t have to go outside. The day is ended with a dinner at Frugatti’s, an Italian place on the eastern side of town. It’s good but expensive and the service a bit slow.

Bakersfield is world-renown for its Basque restaurants. The Basque people (from a region that straddles the border of France and Italy) were shepherds and many migrated to this region. It’s hard work and requires hearty food to keep up. There are at least half a dozen Basque restaurants still operating in town and the culture is still a big part of the city’s identity.

We’ve been to the Basque Café (now closed) and Benji’s. My wife made me promise to try a new restaurant this trip so we head to Woolgrowers located in the old, rundown section of town east of the current downtown. For around $12, we get a meal that starts off with a bowl of hot, vegetable soup followed by a bowl of salad accompanied by a plate of marinated tomatoes and onions. Next come the beans, bread, and salsa. Tim likes to dip his bread in the salsa. The entrées arrive…a New York steak for me, a beef dip for Tim, and a garlic-infused lamb sandwich for Letty with some great French fries on the side. You can also get just the "set up,", everything but the entree and fries, for about $8.  It is all very good and very filling but I’ll give the edge to Benji’s, who is just ever-so-slightly better than Woolgrowers.

On the road to our next destination, it’s about 45 minutes west of town, the Tule Elk Reserve.  Tule elk are smaller elk that are native to the area. They are endangered so a reserve was set aside for them here, where they can be protected and breed to replace diminishing populations within the state.

It costs $8 to park here. There are clean restrooms, picnic tables, and a wheelchair accessible elevated viewing platform.

We went up the platform and it took us awhile, but we finally saw some antlers poking up through the grass about a half-mile away. It took some binoculars to see that much. There’s also a pond in front of the platform and many birds to watch flitting around from black phoebes to golden eagles.

Next, some time is spent driving around the nearby hills, looking at wildflowers which are in their peak season in mid April and then it’s back to town to find the game has been cancelled.

A stop at Dewar's is in order.  This 102 year-old ice cream parlor packs 'em in with their sundaes, shakes, and ice creams.  My wife swears by the pink peppermint and chip ice cream.  They also make great candies.  I especially like the caramel chews, which I call "Dewar's Chewers." 

The old shop is small and tight. Even normal people in this day and age have trouble fitting on the small stools at the counter. The few tables are squeezed in very tight and are not easy to get a wheelchair in. There is another, newer location on the north end of town at Hageman Road and Calloway Drive that is much more roomy and accessible and another at the corner of Rosedale Highway and Calloway Drive, on the west side of town, is scheduled to open in January 2012.

The original shop is at California and Eye Street.  Bakersfield has some quirks, and that street name..."Eye" one of them.  The downtown streets are in a grid, mostly with numbers (1st Street, 2nd Street, 3rd Street) running east and west, while the letters (A Street, B Street, C Street) run north and south.  Eye Street is in between H Street and J Street.

Another quirk is with business names.

"Curl up and Dye" is a salon.  The lot next to Too Fat Sandwiches has a sign on the wall saying "Parking for Too Fat Customers."

With no baseball to watch, it’s back to downtown Bakersfield and the “Arts District.” There are many bars and nightspots here. Fishlips is a good place to watch some hard rock acts, the restored Fox Theater features big names, and the new Brimstone in the old Padre Hotel is drawing a crowd. The granddaddy of them all is Guthries Alley Cat.

Famous as a dive bar, it’s gotten so much popularity and attention that I’d have to call it a former dive bar. Drinks are good, the resident dog can be friendly…if its owner tells it to be, and the locals are nice. A lot of history on the walls and a pool table in the back. Something about it, however, doesn’t call to me so while it’s nice to see what the fuss is all about, I’ll stick to my regular watering hole…

...Mexicali. We want to go back to what we know so it’s down 18th Street to this friendly little DARK bar. It’s funny, we’ve been maybe 5 or 6 time over the last five years…we walk in and everybody remembers us (probably remember Tim more) and say hi, ask us what we’ve been up to and so forth. Great drinks, really friendly bartenders, servers, and patrons. Great bar. Wish they had better food, but Huicho’s is only a block away.

Copyright 2010 – Darryl Musick

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Cocktail Hour: The "King" of Beers?

Let's admit's too short to drink bad beer but now Budweiser has a new variety that they claim has...wait for it..."Taste!"

I guess that means that for all these years Budweiser never really had any. Can't argue with that.

Watch The Video!

Anyway, Tim and I had to put this to the test. On a nice, sunny Southern California afternoon, we decided to settle it. I went to our local liquor dealer, got a can of original Budweiser and a bottle of the new Budweiser Black Crown, a darker amber 6% alcohol beer.

Watch the video above to see the results.

Never say we don't take one for the team here at The World on Wheels...



Friday, December 2, 2016

Kern County and Bakersfield, California - April 2010

“Y’all must be crazy”

Yep, that’s what a lot of you are going be saying when you see where were going. The truth is, we’ve been to over a dozen countries and most of the states, but when we finally left the freeway and started exploring, Bakersfield turned out to be one of the most fun and interesting places we’ve been.

OK, so if I haven’t lost you by now, please read on while I plead my case…

Watch the Video of this trip!

For a couple of years after 9/11, the travel industry was on the ropes. You could get airfares and hotels for a song. Eventually, the economy turned somewhat and many in the industry tried to recoup the losses…tried very, very hard in some cases.

In the most intense period of Tim’s college days, we had very little time to spare during the school year and even less money to do it with (college tuition is a back-breaker!). We had a weekend between semesters where we could get away. Unfortunately, most of the usual suspects were charging usurious rates for basic rooms…over $300 a night in Pismo Beach at the same hotel we’d previously stayed at for $69 the year before.

I’m a music fan, and I also like good country and western music. I’d always wanted to see Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace but just never got around to Bakersfield to see it while he was alive but I’d found a great deal on a two-room suite there so we planned an overnighter. We had a ton of fun watching Buck’s son Buddy lead the Buckaroos while we dined on some fabulous steak. While we were there, we started to see the city in an ever more favorable light and went back again when we had some more time.

It finally happened. Instead of seeing it as a hot and dusty pit stop on Highway 99 on the way to somewhere more exotic, we fell in love with Bakersfield. Give it a try and you might just start looking at it with new eyes too…

Only 99 Cents!

It’s an easy two-hour drive over the Grapevine to Bakersfield when the weather is nice. When it’s not, this can be the drive from Hell. It’s the week after Easter, so along the way we stop in Gorman to view one of nature’s most majestic displays; a mountain covered in brilliantly colored wildflowers. About a half-hour east of here in Antelope Valley is another…miles and miles of fields covered in California Poppies. There is an official state reserve here, along with a much larger area of unofficial blooms.

After taking a little time to literally stop and smell the flowers, we continue on to the down side of the pass into the Central Valley. Thirty minutes later, we make our first stop in Bakersfield, a margarita in the dark and cozy bar of Mexicali on 18th Street.

The friendly bartenders here make one of the best margaritas in the city using Mountain Dew  (actually, it's ReaLemon as I just recently found out - Ed)as the sour mix. They also have a wide variety of margaritas to try but we’ll have to come back sometime when we don’t have to drive.

Just a couple of blocks away is the Holy Grail of tacodom, Los Tacos de Huicho. It’s a good place to walk to and eat off the margarita.

Huicho’s has nothing bad on the menu. Their specialty is al pastor, a pile of marinated pork rotating on a spit with onion and pineapple juices blending with the meat’s own juice as it is slowly cooked to perfection. I have eaten this meat everywhere from Guadalajara to Santa Rosa…no one comes close to the delectable perfection of Huicho’s. It’s also one of the world’s best bargains at only 99 cents per taco.

There is also an excellent carne asada, cabeza, tripas (cow milk gut), fish, and shrimp. Besides the tacos, you can get your meat served in burritos, mulas, huaraches, gringas, and sopes. The tacos come plain…just the meat and tortilla. You then take them to the condiment bar and load them up. I like to sprinkle on the onions and cilantro, followed by the spicy red or green salsa, topped off with their creamy and spicy guacamole salsa. That last one is extremely rare north of the border but is pretty common in Tijuana. It’s just heaven.

Tim also wants to tell you that they make some of the best fries he’s ever had too. The only down side is their bar. It’s pretty much a fast food type of place, but they have a full bar in the back that makes some really uninspired mixed drinks. The beer’s good, though. Huicho’s is located just east of the intersection of Union Avenue and 18th Street.

After less than twenty dollars, all three of us are stuffed. It’s time to find our hotel.

There are several good choices here, most reasonable to cheap. The Best Western next to the Crystal Palace is good if you’re going there. It has nice rooms, a friendly staff, and…being right next door to the Palace…is drinker friendly. I saw a two couples by the pool there once preloading with around 30 bottles of booze before they walked over. Hey, whatever floats your boat…as long as you’re walking and not disturbing me (they behaved, actually they were very nice people).

If you do find yourself drinking to excess there, all you need to do is walk across the parking lot to your room. The full breakfast in the on-site coffee shop that’s included in your room rate will help heal that hangover.

Two blocks away on the other side of the freeway is our current favorite, Springhill Suites. Located in a hotel ghetto between Rosedale Highway and the Kern River, it’s a quiet location and all suites. The staff has come to know us and puts us in the same accessible room on the second floor, overlooking the pool and the river beyond. It’s not as nice a view as it sounds…an oil-rig supply company sits between the hotel and the river.

The room is very nice and spacious. It includes a wet bar with microwave, coffee maker and refrigerator. A large bathroom with a transfer seat in the tub. There are also suites with roll-in showers but they are on the first floor and my wife prefers to be upstairs. A hot breakfast is served each morning off of the lobby. Above all, it is quiet, even when the hotel is full of kids’ sports teams. Rooms here go for over $100 but many discounts are available and I always pay around $80 per night…check their website for current offers.

After unpacking and a little rest, we head over to the Crystal Palace. We have 6:00pm reservations for dinner and a show. Along with the dinner, there is a $5 cover charge for the show. A wonderful steak dinner here will set you back $31. It’s a huge amount of food; 20 oz. steak, salad, squaw bread, biscuits, green beans, and your choice of a side. Plenty big enough for two, the split plate charge is just $8. There’s also sandwiches and pizzas from $9 to $12. A soup and dinner-size salad menu runs from $5 to $13. A full bar is also available. Dinner for three, including a couple of drinks for each of us and the show, comes in around $70 plus tip.

The main band is the Buckaroos, Buck’s old backup band. Every other weekend, Buck’s son Buddy Alan Owens flies in from Phoenix to play with his father’s band. Although he’s Buck’s son, Buddy was mostly raised by his step-father, Merle Haggard (another Bakersfield star), who married his mom after her original marriage broke up. It’s a rockin’ good time as the band plays not only Buck Owens material, but Merle’s too…while Buddy provides some personal back stories to go along with them and folks crowd the dance floor down front. He also mixes in quite a bit of classic rock into the mix.

Buck Owens is legend in this town, so the Palace also doubles as his museum. Hundreds of artifacts from his career sit in display cases lining the joint but the place of honor goes to his Buckmobile, a custom 1972 Pontiac with rifles on the hood and silver dollars mounted on the dash that is permanently mounted over the bar. Buck won the car in a poker game from Nudie, the guy who made all the glittering suits Owens wore during his career.

After the Buckaroos finish, Steve Davis and Stampede take over as the house band. They’re also very good but after two or three songs, it’s late for us and we head back to the hotel. If you only have one night here, an evening at the Palace gives you a good, very fun, distilled version of what this city is all about. It’s family-friendly too, so don’t be afraid to take the kids.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
nickchapman under CC-BY license

In front of the Crystal Palace is the iconic Bakersfield sign that used to welcome travelers into town, stretched over Union Avenue in downtown. It was in bad shape and slated to be demolished when the town’s adopted musical hero, Buck Owens, stepped in to save it. It is now completely restored and crosses Stillwell Avenue next to the steakhouse and night club that Buck built.

Up the river a ways stands more signs. At the Kern County Museum, an effort is being waged to save the iconic neon signs that were a part of this city. You can see some them in the back of the museum grounds, such as the sign that pointed out the annex of the Bakersfield inn…one of the anchor points of the sign Buck Owens saved. Others are awaiting their restoration, like the TEJON letters of the old Tejon Theater marquee. More signs never got the chance…few more iconic signs existed like the block-long Rancho Bakersfield motel sign, long since demolished when the motel became a rehab center (which has since met its own fate on Golden State Avenue).

Along with the signs, acres of old, restored buildings dot the grounds like an old town. A jail, an undertakers office, many houses, an old hotel, a gas station. You could…and probably will…spend many hours exploring them.

Of course, Bakersfield is a huge oil town providing 64% of the oil produced in California. A visit here needs to include the Black Gold exhibit explaining the history and process of the local oil business. A theme-park quality motion simulator ride takes you beneath the ocean floor to find oil deposits. You can operate an antique derrick. Inside, exhibits show how oil does not sit in huge pools under the earth. Rather, it must be pressed out of the rock. No matter how you feel about the oil industry, this thorough look at it is fascinating.
Out front, another rescued icon, the Beale clock tower stands guard.

After the museum, we head north on Chester Avenue to our next stop. Over the Kern River in Oildale is Bakersfield Speedway, a 1/3 mile dirt oval nestled on the edge of town. We get here before 5:30pm and are able to take advantage of their happy hour, $1 dollar Bud and Bud Lite beer. OK, it’s not my favorite…in fact, it’s kind of like drinking water…but for a dollar, it’ll do.

We find a spot in the wheelchair accessible front row at turn four and watch the cars take practice laps. When the powerful, open-wheel modified cars come out, a shower of mud chips hits us every time they come around the corner. It’s time to rethink this and we move up to the top row, which is also accessible by a ramp that is a little steeper than we’d like.

The view and the comfort are much better from up here. A note: the seating here is nothing but concrete benches. Fans bring their own lawn chairs to sit in.

Racing gets started at 6:00 with heat races, starting with the mini-dwarf cars. These are tiny, lawn mower powered jalopy replicas driven by kids as young as 5 years old. They are very competitive and a lot of fun to watch. Next are the hobby stocks, local garage built cars, then the modifieds and finally the super late models, which are the fastest and loudest cars they’ll be racing tonight.

The top two cars from each heat race gets to compete in the next event, the trophy dash. Six cars from each division compete in short races to get a nice trophy and a picture with the trophy queen. The main events start right after the trophy dashes, with long races for the right to be the night’s champion and to claim the prize purse, usually several hundred dollars. The final race we see tonight features a last lap, neck-and-neck battle to the checkered flag. It’s thrilling and a lot of fun.

There's a lot more to come, be sure to come back for Part 2 of our road trip to Bakersfield where it's baseball, wildlife, fine ethnic cuisine, and a look at the nightlife of the city.

Copyright 2010 - Darryl Musick

Monday, November 28, 2016

Visiting the Home Front: Schwabing, Munich

(NOTE: We're trying to see different things on this trip to Munich than we did on our last trip. You might want to check out our previous trip to Bavaria to see some of the big sites we won't be covering on this trip as well)

Previously on The World on Wheels...
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

We're getting ready to wrap up this latest edition of our Grand Tour. So far, we've seen many Cold War sites...such as the Bridge of Spies, remnants of the Berlin Wall, and former border checkpoints...along with World War II Hitler's bunker, his mountaintop hidewaway, and bomb damage in Berlin...along with some great food in Poland and the beautiful but crowded capitol of the Czech Republic (you can also click the link at the top to see other Bavarian landmarks we've visited in the past such as Neuschwanstein Castle, Dachau, the Munich Olympic Village and much more - Ed).

What we haven't done, yet, is to just chill out and enjoy our local neighborhood.

There's a great, accessible tram just a little over a block away from our hotel, the line ends at the Munchner Freihiet Station on Leopoldstrasse, the main thoroughfare for the Schwabing area.

A farmer's market is setting up at the station entrance, this trailer full of bread looks interesting.

Not quite ready to open yet, we head off down the street to see what we can find.

One note about Germany and...really, Europe in that ice seems to be a rare commodity. Letty want to hit the stores for some shopping while Tim and I would just like to have a Coke with some ice in it for a change.

Don't judge us but we couldn't resist going to McDonald's for a nice, big, reasonably priced Coke that actually came with a scoop of ice in it - plus a side a great fries.

After this, a few blocks away, we come across this vintage Porsche.

It's a pretty residential neighborhood off of the main drag with a few little boutiques, cafes, and even this pretty little florist.

Elizabethmarkt, the quiet alternative to Viktulienmarkt, comes next.

We browsed the stands, looking for some snacks for later.

It's also a nice place to just sit back and watch the kids in the playground.

One last biergarten, the Wintergarden, provides us with a meal of wurst and potatoes before working our way back to Leopoldstrasse.

We find a gelateria where the owner speaks decent Spanish so we can get our order just perfect and enjoy some very delicious ice cream.

Back in the hotel, we enjoy our goodies from the day before one more night of rest. In the morning, it's back on the plane for the very long flight home.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 26, 2016

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Ales for the Holidays

Pictured above are the two ales we're tasting today.

On the left is Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale.  Each year the popular grocery store chain commissions a new ale for the holidays.  This year's version is a Belgian style brown ale produced by Unibroue in Canada.

To the right is Zoetzuur, a Flemish sour ale. You've really got to have a taste for this type of Belgian ale. Letty does. She loves them and wishes they were more widely available here in the states. I don't. I'm trying to develop a taste but so far the varieties I've tried are either cloyingly sweet (like Framboise) or tastes like vinegar.
Watch the Video!

Zoetzuur is brewed by De Proefbrouweri in Lochristi-Hijfte, Belgium.  It's a small town near the Dutch border, north of Gent.  The ale clocks in at 7% alcohol and is served in a cork top bottle.  It's head foams up about an inch and has a lighter golden brown color.

For taste, it's a little off.  True, I'm not a sour ale afficiandao, but Letty is and she agrees.  There's a quick taste of, what I think of as, grape soda.  Letty does not taste that but we both agree that there's an off-smell and taste.  Kind of like a skunky beer but different.  Something that we went back and forth on as to what exactly it was.  We ended up agreeing that it is the smell and taste of a horse farm. 

At $10.99 for a 750 ml bottle, it's just not worth the price.  Letty is still looking for a good, sour ale that she can get on a regular basis.  Rodenbach is one of her favorites but hard to find and the Bruery supposedly makes one of the finest sours around but they ran out and it will be over a year (!) till their next batch is ready.

The Trader Joe's Vintage Ale 2010, on the other hand, continues the strong tradition of great ales released each holiday season.  It's a dark, dark beer but not heavy.  Extremely foamy like the time I used regular granulated sugar to ferment some homemade beer, the head grows very fast so you need to do a careful pour.

The taste is smooth, the ingredients very harmonious.  The bitterness just hits the back of your throat on it's way down the way a nice, cold Coke Classic does.  I like this beer quite a bit and at 9% alcohol content, it's no lightweight.  It's also a very good bargain at only $4.99 for a 750 ml corked bottle.  I'll be going back to buy a few more.



The Cocktail Hour: Trader Joe's Holiday Ale Tasting - 2013

It's time for our annual taste of Trader Joe's holiday ale. This year, I missed grabbing the usual holiday ale and got the second ale, the Belgian blonde instead.

Brewed each year for TJ's by Unibroue, the ales are corked and ageable.

Watch the Video!

The blonde this year is like a Leffe with a little more heft and carmelization.

Check out the video above for the full tasting.



Friday, November 25, 2016

A Day in the Garten - Navigating Munich's Englischer Garten from End to End

(NOTE: We're trying to see different things on this trip to Munich than we did on our last trip. You might want to check out our previous trip to Bavaria to see some of the big sites we won't be covering on this trip as well)

Previously on The World on Wheels...
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

New York has Central Park; London has Hyde Park; Vancouver has Stanley Park; Berlin has the Tiergarten.  It seems that every big city has a grand park in it for the residents to enjoy and escape the urban life for awhile. In Munich, this would be the Englisher Garten...a huge city park that stretches over five miles along the Isar River.

It is our destination for today.

Watch the Video!

One or two stops on the U-Bahn from our Schwabing district hotel puts us within walking distance of the park's northern boundary. We make our way along the Frankfurter Ring until we get to the parking lot of Munich Tennis club which allows us to get off of the busy highway and enter the park through a quiet entrance in the back of the lot.

For a few minutes, I'm lost in the woods until I see a sign in the bushes for our first destination, the Aumeister Biergarten.

A left up the path and eventually the garden's large seating area opens up in front of us.  We're here to fortify ourselves with some dessert...including a very good auzignone...and some beer before tackling the rest of the park.

This end of the park is much more forested and quiet than the lower half. You can easily get lost in the woods.

The meadows are not mowed, in fact, shepherds still use the area to graze their flocks.

Streams gurgle under low pedestrian bridges.

As we make our way through, we encounter many bikers, hikers, dog walkers, parents with kids...all just out to enjoy the natural surroundings of the area.

A dam looms up ahead. There's a bumpy, rocky, but somewhat accessible path up to the top of the dam that allows us to cross the river. One side is a lake, the other a stream.

Swans glide across the water in the deeper areas.

Tim's chair is starting to give us problems, so we exit the park here to search for a tram to take us to the middle of the park. 

After strolling through a residential area, we come across another park where dogs cool off in the clear stream.  One of the dogs owners strikes up a little conversation with us and tells us which direction to go in to catch a tram.

Much walking later, we finally find a tram that takes us to the middle of the park.

Here, we come across the massive Chinischer Turm biergarten. In Munich, biergartens are situated at strategic points, in the Englischer Garten, there are a few to help you rejuvinate after a long walk.

This one, with it's large Chinese Pagoda, is a very popular stop.

A brass band plays in the tower while we get a little food and beer before continuing on. I do need to remember before moving on that the price of beer at this particular spot includes a deposit on the stein. I'll turn it in to get it back before I leave.

There's a handy map at the exit of the biergarten where we can figure out a) where we are and b) how to get were we want to go.

We decide to walk along the Eisbach Canal for the rest of our park adventure.
It's a hot, summer day in Munich and the canal is almost irresistible. In fact, it is too irresistible for some as park frolickers jump in and float in the cool, clear water.

Families play, dogs yap, and a few naturists tan.

It's a beautiful day in the park.

Finally, we come to the south end of the park where the rushing Eisbach enters into it's course. This spot with it's permanent wave has become one of the city's biggest, modern tourist attractions where a line of surfers patiently wait their turn on each side to have a minute to ride it.

A block away is another park in this city filled with them, the Hofgarten where we end our day listening to a lone violinist under the park's kiosk dome.

This was originally supposed to be a laid back, easy going day but a final check on Letty's fitness app shows that we walked 26,341 steps or just under 12 miles.

We'll rest up and hit the streets again tomorrow.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved